First Steele, now Alvarado: Exeter (7-1, 4-0) did a respectable defensive job against Kingsburg standout quarterback Garrett Steele in a 26-14 Central Sequoia League conquest of the Vikings on Oct. 15.
Now the Monarchs, top-ranked in the Central Section's Division IV, look to clinch at least a league-title tie tonight with a win over visiting Coalinga (7-2, 4-1) and junior Brian Alvarado (1,732 rushing yards, 20 TDs).
Exeter's defense has allowed an average of only 11.0 points while carrying a team ravaged by injuries to running backs.
Sixth-year coach Ben White says Marcus Aguilar is the best middle linebacker he's had. And the supporting cast features lock-down cornerbacks Alex Valencia and Brayden Winding and third-year strong safety Alan Sanchez.
Offensively, though, the Monarchs have dipped as deep as their sixth-string tailback, but it has hardly mattered because of a line that cleared the way for them all behind right tackle Miguel Perez and center Matt Dreo.
Dos Palos will gun for school win No. 600 in its 87-year history tonight at Avenal (0-8, 0-3).
Cal-Hi's South bowl rankings also have No. 5 Centennial and No. 11 Clovis West in D-I, No. 14 Porterville in D-II and No. 9 Exeter and No. 10 Washington in D-III.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Ernest Carter, Central: For all the Grizzlies' talk this season about the running back that never was (Brendon Bigelow, lost to injury), the receiver that is (B.J. Kelley, 38 catches and bearing down on a 1,000-yard season) and the quarterback that will be for yet another season (junior Michael Baker), Carter is the team MVP. The senior has scored 12 touchdowns and must be respected by Clovis West tonight as a running back, receiver and punt/kick returner.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
No. 4 Porterville (8-0, 6-0) at Delano (5-3, 4-2): Gotta believe the East Yosemite League-leading Panthers will walk into a beehive at Delano, which lost by only a touchdown (17-10) to No. 5 Tulare (7-1, 5-1).
Yosemite (4-4, 3-0) at Washington (6-2, 3-0): The team nobody's talking about, Yosemite -- a year after not even competing in the postseason -- goes to Easton to decide the North Sequoia League trophy. The Badgers march down the hill with a formidable pass-rush punch in Brad Rolff and Cody Essary.